The pandemic has parents all over the world in a fix over their kids' education. With most physical schools shut and classes happening online, parents have started looking for options other than the traditional public and private schools. In the search for a sustainable alternative, many American families have switched to Homeschooling — a system where kids are schooled at home, under the loving care of parents, and a flexible schedule that best meets their needs.
If you, too, have been flirting with the thought of signing up your kids for Homeschooling, you might have come across these three terms — Pandemic pods, Microschools & Homeschool Co-ops. We at Cuemath, a Google for Education partner, want to throw some light and clarify them. So let's unpack each one.
The fight against this deadly virus is long and tiring. Social distancing and health concerns prohibit people from meeting anyone. Kids can't go to school; families can't take a vacation; friends can't party; we can't watch sports or jam to music together. This isolation has made life lonely, and the COVID Response Tracking Study of The University of Chicago finds that the number of American adults feeling lonely has doubled to that before the pandemic. The number of American citizens with severe psychological distress has tripled.
To satisfy their emotional and social needs, people have come up with 'quarantine pods' or 'pandemic pods.' Herein, a small group of people limits their non-distanced interaction to within the group. Besides taking care of basic hygiene, they don't need to wear masks with this group or follow other social distancing protocols.
This works really well for students as well. Parents either share supervision with other parents, or they pool money to hire a full-time teacher. Either way, students get to study and interact with other kids under the guidance of an adult. It breaks the monotony of sitting alone in the room and gives them an opportunity for the most crucial element of being alive - the human touch. Besides minimizing the risk of infection to a small group, other benefits of pandemic pods include flexibility and affordability.
Even though Pandemic pods can be an effective solution to the current scenario, they run the risk of being expensive, complicated to organize, and reinforcing racial and economic disparity.
Another alternative to traditional schooling is Microschooling. It is a broad term and describes a small neighborhood school that enrolls a few children, sometimes even less than 10. However, there isn't a standardized definition for all these schools yet, which vary by size, cost, operating models, and education philosophies. Most microschools stick to a manageable number and stay below 50 with three or more teachers.
The reasons for large schools were to reduce fixed costs and diversify teacher expertise, and this logic had merit 100 years ago. However, in the modern world, where expenses are high, and the price of high-quality curriculums is moving downwards, the cost of sending kids to a large school has started to outweigh its benefits.
Microschools are a safe alternative, and American families have started embracing these one-room private schools with 20 kids over the traditional large schools with big playgrounds and 2000 kids. The individual attention a student receives is more, and the students have higher control over what happens in a typical school day. One of the prime benefits of microschools is location flexibility. Some are at home, but most leverage community assets like parks, museums, community halls, etc.
A homeschool co-op is essentially a group of families that get together regularly and work together to achieve common academic goals. Parents lead the classes, and sometimes they may chip in to hire and pay teachers and activity leaders. A small homeschool co-op may have as few as three families, while the larger one may encompass several hundred children.
In the United States, Homeschool co-ops generally meet once or twice a week, if not at homes, then at places like churches, parks, libraries, etc. The parents and students together decide on the syllabus. While some co-ops follow the university model and curriculum, many choose to focus on social skills, arts, or non-traditional approaches to regular subjects. Parents adopt the "It takes a village to raise a child" approach by sharing the educational responsibilities of their kids.
Homeschool co-ops differ from homeschool groups in terms of scale and activities. The latter is larger and may also have field trips, talent shows, parent meetings, book clubs, and more. For large homeschool groups, Co-ops could form one of their many activities. Affordability, accountability, and opportunities to socialize with other kids are only a few of the benefits of homeschool co-ops.
Ultimately, all three options are middle grounds to Homeschooling and can help you make a smooth transition away from traditional schooling. Choose the option that suits your and your kid's needs best or seek guidance from the stellar pool of 10,000+ experienced teachers at Cuemath.
Now that you have a slightly better understanding of Homeschooling, it is time to take positive steps towards your kids' education. Cuemath offers Live Online Math classes for kids from KG to 12th grade, and their curriculum is entirely compliant with the US Common Core plus accredited by STEM.org. Book a Free online demo with them to kickstart this journey by experiencing their adaptive Math-Tech approach.
-By Abhishek Deswal
Abhishek is an engineer with a math-focus outlook on life. Through his writing at Cuemath, he puts forward his belief that life makes more sense when seen through numbers. A former analytics professional, he enjoys theatre, football, and long runs.